Every Courts for Kids trip is an adventure full of obstacles, challenges and memorable experiences;
the Brasilia, Costa Rica trip was no different. Twenty-one Jesuit High School Juniors and Seniors and three chaperones arrived to the village after a day and a half of traveling. In Brasilia, two wonderful host families were anxiously awaiting our arrival. In a great show of faith, one family had cleared out their business space for the boys to sleep in, and the other family decided to sleep in their living
room while the girls stayed in the rooms. This generosity was only the beginning of what the whole week had in store for the group.
On the first day of work, the group met for breakfast, which consisted of mixed rice and beans, along with scrambled eggs and fresh coffee. The scenery was green from the rainy season, and there were howler monkeys on trees and farm animals to photograph. Local community members were curious
of the large group arrival but one could also see the excitement in their faces.
The land was not fully prepped, so the group couldn’t start pouring the cement. A trench had to be dug, the pouring rain was making the area muddy, and there weren’t nearly enough wheelbarrows to take advantage of the large group. At that moment, there were questions as to whether the week in-site would be enough time to finish the court.
Although focused on working throughout the days, some the most gratifying experiences were the bonds formed with the locals. The chaperones worked closely with the contractor in charge, who spoke no English, but still managed to understand each other and have fun communicating by hand
signals. The volunteers also enjoyed working alongside children who came out to help with the shoveling and small ad-hoc tasks. There were times when work needed to be paused due to the heavy rains, but the children didn’t leave the volunteers’ side. There was a point where the whole group was drenched, full of mud, yet still enjoying themselves slip-and-sliding in the rain.
On Sunday evening, the group, along with the kids from the community, hosted a birthday celebration for one of the volunteers. Everyone sang in English and Spanish, ate cake and shared candy. On one of the last days, some community members hosted a celebration for the group, where they played games like musical chairs. Everyone had fun dancing, as well. On another day, after a tough workload, the group walked to a river nearby, where they were able to relax, enjoy the fresh water, and wash off.
On the final day, the tight deadline loomed and the group was unsure as to whether the court would be built on time. It was pouring, which caused work stoppages. However, not one volunteer took a sustained break that day. They were all racing with energy and it was their drive to finish the court what ultimately got it done.
The morning of the inauguration, the group went to mass. The priest thanked them for their incredible service. The gratitude from the community, and the joy in the children’s faces as they stepped on the court, was worth every bit of hard work.
Arenal Volcano was the last stop the group made, before returning home. It was a beautiful excursion that helped everyone relax, with hot springs, water slides and scenery to enjoy.
The group left behind an impactful gift to the community of Brasilia, Costa Rica. But the volunteers took with them an even bigger life-changing lesson: Perspective. The community opened their homes and their hearts, and their support will never be forgotten.
~Ana Madrid, CFK representative
Various families showed me a new way of living with your neighbors . . . They showed me how to make new connections with people so that I might think twice before passing a stranger on the street without making eye contact. About myself, I’ve discovered how easily I adapt and how much I enjoy the company of genuine people. I’ve found new levels of curiosity, appreciation for life, love for others, and eagerness to help in myself that hadn’t necessarily been as exercised before. With this, I’d love to use it to help change the world.
– Juliana Fustolo
The main thing I learned from the community came from the kids, and that was perseverance. A few of the kids came every day, but no matter what , there was always around 5 little kids running around barefoot or in broken, ripped boots trying to do what they could to help. They wheel barrowed, shoveled, threw buckets, trenched, and helped us make the court what it was. It wouldn’t be the same without them. They kept coming back, which I definitely wouldn’t have done when I was their age. They kept plugging away, through rain and cold and hot and multiple plan changes. They kept doing what needed to be done, never complained, and killed it.
– Brennan Mornhinweg
I need to live a more simple life because happiness doesn’t come with how many clothes you have , it comes from loving what the greater force has given you and cherishing the special moments you’re blessed with being able to experience.
– Lucy Madrigal
This trip made me value friendship much deeper and depend on others much more. This is because without a lot of materialist things we are forced to spend time with the people around us and form deeper bonds.
– Laura Korngiebel
I learned many things from this community. For example, I learned that by simply waving to someone walking by and saying hello can make someone’s day. I also learned it was very possible to live a happy life without all the extra material things in life such as phones and computers. Without these things people build stronger relationships and get to know more people in their community.
– Lexi Becker
I learned hard work and determination from the community. We had kids who helped us every single day. They were lifting heavy buckets and wheelbarrows that even I couldn’t lift. It was amazing to see that kids came out to help us build the court and that was how you wanted to spend their time.
– Lauren Rivers
We shared many laughs, bonded with the locals, and told stories about our lives at home. I also like how futbol brought us together with the community . . . . I have learned how easy it is to become friends with someone through an activity such as soccer. I also learned that true friendship and kindness can easily overcome any barriers (such as) race or language.
– Nolan McCarthy
What I learned from the community was the true definition of friendship and happiness. They welcomed us into their lives with open arms and accepting attitudes, and their generosity blew my mind. I was impressed by the love they showed us even before they had gotten to know us and their willingness to help us as well as their pure delight when they saw us was phenomenal. They might not have all they want/need, but they make the most out of their situation and I never once heart them complain. They taught me that love and good spirit are not things that result from material possessions or wealth, but they can be found by learning to value and embrace the company of those around you, because that is a genuine gift.
– Hadley Wilhoite
Something I understand more clearly is how people could have so little and be so happy. For example, everybody seemed perfectly content with what they had and they always offered hospitality. I believe this is because they put family and community matters above other things.
– Marcus Dimeo
I learned that being a good neighbor includes sharing everything you have like mangos, juice, and a home. Most importantly even with a language barrier the easiest way to show love and kindness is through generous acts.
– Serena Santiago
What I understand more clearly now is how people are so happy while having so little. These people don’t have much but they have such a strong sense of community because of it. They aid each other and spend tons of time with each other.
– Dylan Johnson